Sunday, May 15, provided us with a full day of activities with our kayaking club BASK (Bay Area Sea Kayakers) at China Camp State Park. We have a good relationship with Friends of China Camp, the non-profit that runs the park. As such we had access to the museum for a presentation prior to the museum opening to the public. China Camp is a beautiful spot on San Pablo Bay about an hour drive north of San Francisco. It is of interest historically and culturally. A Chinese shrimp-fishing village thrived here in the 1880s.
I arrived early since I had volunteered to record the presentation given by John Muir—a presentation on the history of China Camp. That video is now available on YouTube. Before the meeting, we unloaded our boats since we planned to paddle later in the day. The tide was quite low when we unloaded, as you can see in the photo. By afternoon the tide would be high enough to avoid getting stuck in the mud.
After the presentation we moved to a picnic area south of the main beach for brunch: bagels, lox, cream cheese, fruit, yogurt, and coffee. This being our first face-to-face general meeting in over two years, it was a treat to be able to sit down with fellow club members.
After brunch a number of us broke into pods to participate in a coastal cleanup. Each pod was assigned a section of shoreline between China Camp and Buck’s Landing. I was in the green pod, and our territory spanned Buckeye Point to Jake’s Island. Five us us set out to paddle to our area. As we rounded the point near Rat Rock, we found ourselves paddling straight into a stiff wind, with wind waves and white caps. We attempted to hug the coast to stay out of the direct force of the wind, but the wind soon took a toll on members of our pod. Three members opted to turn back rather than fight the wind and the waves.
Two of us continued on, powering into the wind and waves. I found it to be an exhilarating experience.
While paddling I was also trying to stay in contact with other club members via radio. Each time I’d pick up the radio, the wind would set me back, and then I’d have to struggle to catch up. Even so, we made it to Jake’s Island in good time. From there is was a fast ride back as we scoured the shoreline looking for debris. There was not much to see from the vantage point of a kayak.
We did pick up a pod member on a SUP and, with the higher vantage point, he was doing a better job spotting debris. What debris we did find required getting out of our boats and wading in the marsh, wary of stepping into a hole of boot-sucking mud. Most of the debris was higher up in the marsh and hard to reach from a boat.
Once we completed our cleanup, we rendezvoused with Ranger Scott to off-load our debris. We didn’t set any records for distance, having covered five miles, but even so, it was a fun day and an exhilarating paddle. More photos are available in an online gallery.